E-cigarette sales have risen dramatically in the last three years and, according to the international smoking awareness charity, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the market is currently worth £91.3 million a year. The same group found that an estimated 2.1 million adults regularly use e-cigarettes, with the majority of users claiming that they had converted to them in order to try smoke less, with some others hoping that e-cigarettes would help them quit altogether. The statistics aren't that surprising and e-cigarette use has definitely become more of a common sight over the last two or three years, but what does all that mean for the traditional cigarette industry?
Although e-cigarettes have sent waves through the media, they have probably done less to traditional smoking than you might think. According to the research by ASH, at the end of 2013 even the lowest selling UK cigarette brand had outsold all e-cigarettes and, although there was an 11% drop in overall cigarette sales (a decline that has been happening since 1974), smoking still commanded a huge market.
At this stage, and with the research that's been collected over the years, it's clear to everyone that smoking is harmful; with around 100,000 people dying each year because of it, there's a strong chance that those facts are more to blame for the smoking decline than the electronic alternative - but is the e-cigarette actually a healthier option?
Research surrounding the risks of e-cigarettes has, at times, been difficult to follow and unfortunately much of it is still inconclusive. Questions like whether e-cigarettes can help quell your addiction and about whether they give off harmful vapours are still difficult to answer.
A study by the University of California wasn't exactly conclusive and researchers admitted that their study of 949 people may not have been large enough to say anything for certain. Dr Mitchell Katz, deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, which published the study, wrote that, "Unfortunately, the evidence on whether e-cigarettes help smokers to quit is contradictory and inconclusive", but the overall consensus was that e-cigarettes were probably no help for those trying to quit – not exactly comforting if that's why you're using them.
Another report, published recently by the World Health Organisation, recommended that e-cigarettes should be banned from use indoors, stating that the "fact that ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) exhaled aerosol contains on average lower levels of toxicants than the emissions from combusted tobacco does not mean that these levels are acceptable to involuntarily exposed bystanders." Whatever the case may be, experts have expressed concerns over e-cigarettes, arguing that, although it may take some time to find them all out, there are likely to be harmful side effects that come with e-cigarettes.
Smoking has always been seen as a symbol of 'cool', with film characters often portrayed smoking to add a little edge and, although e-cigarettes have not quite received that same 'cool' image, they have certainly become more common, with 'vaping' bars opening and with the e-cigarette a common sight on most high streets. But, to be healthier, the truth is, when all the facts are considered, if you really want to ditch the dirty habit then there are proven and tested methods that will be far better for you than turning to e-cigarettes.